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 junior mysteries

Last year I went to different schools around Salt Lake doing book fairs. It was a dream and a panic induced nightmare because while I was excited to tell the students about all the books we had available, it also meant that I was expected to know a lot of books in all the genres. (Not much has changed in my current librarian position.)

Unfortunately no one has asked me for mystery suggestions lately, so I am offering them to you now. These are some of my favorite mysteries which we had at the book fair that are also at the Provo Library!

4.27 HostageHOSTAGE
By Willo Davis Roberts

Kaci comes home in the middle of the school day to find her house getting robbed. The thieves take her hostage and when her nosy neighbor suspects something is wrong and starts nosing around the outside, she gets taken as well. Kaci discovers that her neighbor has more to offer than spying on her neighbors and they must band together to escape.

Willo Davis Roberts has written a slew of other mysteries that also includes Babysitting is a Dangerous Game. I really enjoyed both of these and would absolutely recommend her. She does a great job creating suspense without it being too intense. 


By Gordon McAlpine

Think the Weasley twins. Ultimate tricksters who are able to read each other’s minds. In the first chapter Edgar and Allan Poe get kicked out of school for some legendary pranks. When their beloved cat is kidnapped and transported to the Midwest, they convince their guardians to take them on a road trip. Mayhem and mysteries ensue as they go on their adventure as well as more questions. This series has great witty banter and fun literary references.


By Mary Downing Hahn

Twelve year old Molly is not happy when her mother remarries and is less thrilled that they are moving into an old converted church. The graveyard behind the church gives Molly the creeps, but her new stepsister Heather is drawn to it. Heather meets a lonely ghost who realizes that she doesn’t have to be lonely if she lures the lonely Heather to a similar death. It is up to Molly to thwart Helen’s plan.


By RA Spratt

Friday Barnes, girl genius, solves a bank robbery and decides to use her reward money to send herself to the most exclusive boarding school in the country- and discovers a hotbed of crime! She starts investigating cases from disappearing homework to a yeti haunting the school swamp.

It’s a great book full of mystery, adventure and great characters.


4.27 Sweetness at the Bottom of the PieSWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE
By Alan Bradley

11 year old Flavia de Luce loves chemistry and poisons. In the summer of 1950 in a sleepy English village of Bishop’s Lacey, a dead bird is found on her doorstep with a postage stamp pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and sees him take his last dying breath. Flavia is appalled and delighted and decides she’s going to follow the clues and solve the crime herself, to help the police of course.

This is a brilliant series with a clever protagonist that uses the fact that she’s 11 to sneak her way through her village to solve the mysteries.

The 9th book “The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place” came out the end of January. This book is technically not in junior or YA fiction. It’s regular adult mystery, but I still can’t help but recommend it to older readers that have an interest 


austen ranking

I've been lucky enough to meet a lot of incredible authors through our AuthorLink events, but there’s only one I’d completely geek out over. Unfortunately, she’s been dead for nearly 200 years.

I’m one of those people. Janeite, Austenite, actual crazy person, nerd – whatever you want to call me, I have to confess that when it comes to Jane Austen, I’m more than a casual fan. After reading each of her novels countless times, researching her life extensively, poring over Austen scholarship, and writing a master’s thesis about Austen adaptations, I’ve come to two conclusions:

  1. I’m WAY too invested in the life and writings of a dead person

  2.  Austen 100% lives up to the hype

If you’ve never read an Austen novel, I’m begging you to do it, even if you’ve seen the film adaptations and think they’re not your thing. The humor, rhythm, and genius of her writing never completely transfer to the screen, and you don’t quite know Austen if you’ve never read her books.

That being said, Austen adaptations are prolific, ranging from the merely okay to the brilliant, and most of them are worth watching at least once. Fortunately for you, I’ve seen them all, with one notable and a few not so notable exceptions, so I can save you time in choosing where to start.

Austen nerd that I am, I’ll spend the next few weeks sharing my favorite and not-so-favorite Austen adaptations (except for PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES and a handful of obscure adaptations from the 50s and 60s that I still haven’t seen. Whoops.) 

Miniseries, films, and YouTube adaptations are all up for grabs, but there are a few films I won’t be ranking. Here's why:

4.26 Death Comes to PemberleyDEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY
Directed by Daniel Percival

Because it’s a sequel, not an adaptation of the original. It is on Netflix, though, if you like your Regency period drama with a dash of murder.


4.26 Becoming JaneBECOMING JANE
Directed by Julian Jarrold

Because it’s a (romantic, but not terribly accurate) biographical film, not an adaptation of an Austen novel.


4.26 Miss Austen RegretsMISS AUSTEN REGRETS
Directed by Jeremy Lovering

Because, again, it’s a biopic, not an Austen adaptation. Maybe it's good that it's not on the list, because our library doesn't own it, and neither does the Orem Public Library. I definitely don't own it, so how did I ever watch this in the first place?

It's a mystery.


4.26 AustenlandAUSTENLAND
Directed by Jerusha Hess

Because, though this film is a joy, it's a Shannon Hale Adaptation, not a Jane Austen adaptation. It is, however, a hilarious homage to Austen, Austen fans, and people who think Austen fans are ridiculous. You should watch it.


4.26 The Jane Austen Book ClubTHE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB
Directed by Robin Swicord

Because, though it draws on Austen in its plots, it's in that fuzzy territory between Austen-inspired and a full-fledged adaptation. Feel free to disagree.


4.26 EligibleELIGIBLE

Because, regrettably, I am unable to time travel into the future, even for a modernized Austen adaptation. In the meantime, the book is available.


So, with those banned from the competition, now’s the time for guessing. I'll try to be diplomatic in my analysis, but you don't have to be. Which adaptation do you think deserves the number one spot? Which adaptations are an abomination, defiling all that is good and holy and Austenesque? Let us know in the comments.


craft skills

After doing the Make and Take Craft program every summer, I have noticed that there are some skills that kids just do not have in this tech age. One of the biggest ones is using scissors. While the idea of handing scissors to a child and allowing them to cut something can cause fear in any parent (and anxiety in those who want things picture-perfect), knowing how to use scissors is a skill that every child needs to have—not just for crafting but for developing fine motor skills. The skill of hand separation (ability to use only some of the fingers and not all on the hand) will help with other fine motor skills later in life—playing a musical instrument, typing, and doing the Vulcan hand sign (okay, so that last one might not be as important). 

Here are a few tips to help you teach scissor skills to your kids: 

  1. Teach scissor safety: Never walk (or run) with scissors 

  2. Purchase blunt edge scissors 

  3. Remind kids that scissors are for cutting paper only
    And then remind them again...and get the picture. I personally made quite the fashion statement when I cut off one of my pigtails as a child, but hey, it makes for a great story now that I'm older. 

  4. Just like any other skill, practice makes perfect(ish)
    There are many practice cutting worksheets you can find online but mix it up by making a craft 

For further info, check out the article Teaching Preschoolers to Use Scissors from Parents Magazine.

 hiking with kids

I love being outdoors and going on hikes. The sunshine, fresh air and beautiful views rejuvenate my soul. It gets a little trickier to try to enjoy the outdoors and go hiking with little kids because sometimes it turns into a big production and everyone starts whining. I really want to get out and do some exploring with my family this summer and discover some new favorite hikes. We have several great books at the library that can help in the planning.  

4.24 Families on FootFAMILIES ON FOOT
By Jennifer Pharr Davis and Brew Davis

This book focuses on the importance of getting out and hiking as a family. This can be through a downtown city, on a paved trail or in the mountains; it doesn’t matter as long as you are walking together. It talks about how to prepare and what to take with you and then some ideas of what to do while you are hiking. Each topic divides up the information into preschool, elementary school, middle school and high school age groups so you can read the information that applies to your family. This is a great resource for families that want to enjoy the outdoors together but be aware that it is not a trail guide. 


By Brian Brinkerhoff and Greg Witt

This guide covers the Salt Lake Valley and Big & Little Cottonwood canyons. The hikes range from short strolls to full-day dventures. Each entry includes distance, hiking time, difficulty, trail surface, best season, if dogs are permitted, and fees. It also contains a detailed explanation of how to find the trailhead and then some details of what to expect on the hike. Not all of these trails would be appropriate for kids, but the information provided will help you decide what would work for your family. 


4.24 Best Hikes for Children UtahBEST HIKES WITH CHILDREN UTAH
By Maureen Keilty

My favorite part of the book is the introduction section because it gives specific information on hiking with children, from how to involve them in the planning and packing to how to get them excited about the hike. It also has recommendations of what to pack. The hikes are organized in the following groups: Wasatch and North, Uinta and Central, Southwest, and Southeast. Each hike has easy to understand symbols and important information for the hike. And the best part is every hike in the book is appropriate for the whole family from toddlers to teenagers to grandparents. 


By Greg Witt

Most of these hikes would be too hard for families, but this is a great resource to find local hikes and get some ideas of things to try. My favorite part of this book is the list of recommended hikes in the front. The author divides his list into categories like hikes of 1-3 miles, hikes near streams and rivers, hikes with waterfalls, best hikes for children, best hikes for dogs, best hikes for wildflowers, best for regular workouts, etc.  


By Mike Matson

Again, this trail guide has all level of hikes so you want to make sure you are informed before heading out and look for the easy hikes. There is a section in the front that lists the best 5 hikes for families. This guide includes trails around the Provo area.


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